The Pink Ribbon: What Does It Represent?

In Breast Cancer, Recent Posts by Barbara Jacoby

On October 1st, the world was once again blanketed with “The Pink Ribbon”. For many people who have never been touched by the world of breast cancer, they feel that they are being assaulted by nothing more than a huge fundraiser where the money raised will go to line the pockets of the big pharmaceutical companies and other research organizations. They believe that all of the big companies in the breast cancer world are playing upon our sympathies, using our mothers and sisters and grandmothers and aunts and friends as the pawns in a big financial game. However, from my own experiences and work as a patient advocate, I can assure you that this is anything but the reality of what the breast cancer awareness campaigns are all about.

I know personally that if it weren’t for the help and work and research of a whole lot of people, my own outcome would have been entirely different in a very negative way.Barbara Jacoby

I am not in a position to make a donation to all of the organizations that are doing various types of work in breast cancer treatment and research. I can’t contribute to every person that is doing a walk for the cure. I can’t buy every product whose manufacturer has pledged to donate a portion of their sales to a breast cancer organization. However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t contribute to the cause in my own way.

From my own experience, based upon the technology that was available at the time that I was diagnosed, my actual cancer was assessed and it was determined that I did not need chemotherapy. The possibility of radiation and hormone therapy were discussed with me and based on the information provided by my oncologist, I was able to participate in making decisions about my own path for treatment.

Now, if I believe that everyone was just out to make money from my breast cancer treatment, I would have been given chemo, radiation, hormone therapy and a battery of totally unnecessary tests on at least a yearly basis. However, I had faith in the medical professionals with whom I was/am involved and I do not believe that a single one of them was ever motivated by the money they could make on me either directly or in tandem with working with a pharmaceutical company. If such had been the case, I would have immediately changed the doctor in whom I did not have the utmost faith and trust.

Since that time, I have been following the research that is going on in the world and I am in awe of some of the advancements that have been made in the last 9 years since my last cancer-related surgery. The idea of a radiation treatment at the time of surgery applied directly to the site from which the cancer has been removed is such a wonderful advancement. The expansion of the ability to test each cancer in order to determine the best treatment for each patient is fantastic. The new techniques that are being explored in reconstructions that have expanded the options of the patient are almost mind boggling to me. And there is even a vaccine in the early stages of testing that may become the ultimate answer to breast cancer in and of itself.

Many of the fundraisers also donate a lot of their monies to support programs for those with breast cancer. Monies are raised at this time that will provide surgeries for those who can’t afford them. There are programs that assist with the medications that patients need including chemo and radiation therapies. There are those that assist families with daily expenses because the patient is not able to work and provide for their own basic necessities as well as those of their families.

There are those that assist with wigs and prosthetics for patients in need. There are those that provide transportation to medical appointments or to surgery facilities that are at a distance, including air transport. And there are those which help with hospice care for those who are in need of those services. And believe me when I say that this only scratches the surface of the help that is needed and provided to breast cancer patients.

So I ask that the next time that you see a pink ribbon, you might consider embracing the work that is being done under the umbrella of that symbol and know that your contribution in whatever way you are able to give it is greatly appreciated. In this way, together we can make a difference for women everywhere regardless of whether they are near and dear to us or are underserved in our own country or other countries around the world. I know personally that if it weren’t for the help and work and research of a whole lot of people, my own outcome would have been entirely different in a very negative way.